Some positive observations on the mexican section of the ICC

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marmot
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Aug 17 2008 20:07
Some positive observations on the mexican section of the ICC

Well, some months ago I decided I was going to meet with the ICC, either in the US (where I currently recide), or in Mexico, which is my homecountry.

I am making this topic because libcom at first made me feel a little uneasy about meeting them. People here say they are a cult, and obsesive, and that they have collective aspergers. Now that I met them, I think this is not true - at least with the mexican comrades of Revolución Mundial.

They came to my hometown in Mexico this friday to discuss the platform of the ICC. I also brought a friend who was close to the ideas of the communist left. We had a few beers at the pub and we talked. I don't think they were as serious as people said, I made a few cracks and they laughed. We also laughed a lot at the RCP in the US because for us mexicans it is simply ridicolous that the biggest "hard left" tendency in a first world country is maoism. They listened to what I had to say - including ansome of my criticisms.For example, I said that the press needs to be written better, because sometimes its either too boring and cheesy. I also said that they were simply wrong on some things, like in one of the immigrant strikes that happened in the US. They didn't "defend" themselves in a pedantic matter - they actually said i am right in the communication question and that the other question of immigration, I should take it on the internationalism website because it makes the press and the polemic more lively.

I am also surprised that the mexican section of the ICC was so new. It has about 20 years, which surprised me because in the 30s there was already a left communist circle operating in Mexico. The mexican section is also the third biggest one of the ICC.

They were really comradely. They even offered to pay our expenses if we ever want to go to Mexico city for a meeting.

As I said, I do have some criticisms on the ICC. I sometimes think their use of very absolutist concepts and terms can alienate a lot of people. I think, however, that it is admirable that they have defended for 40 years internationalist principles. Especially in countries like Mexico - where nationalist armed gangs are the rage with the leftist youth. I asked the comrades in mexico and they even said that they were threatened once by them. Its very difficult in places like this to defend internationalist principles.

I post this topic because there is a lot of shit-slinging against ICC comrades in this forum. I wanted to say that - atleast with the people I met in Mexico - the things said here didnt apply.

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OliverTwister
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Aug 17 2008 22:04

Hm. Perhaps I should've taken the opportunity to meet with them when I was in Mexico city recently, it would've been interesting to hear a perspective on the Pemex crisis beyond what the PRD and the leftist parties were putting forward.

The IBRP also have some mexican sympathizers who wrote a decent piece, "Nacionalismo Petrolero o internacionalismo proletariao", i haven't read anything else they've written though.

marmot
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Aug 18 2008 06:19

The ICC also has a similar article on PEMEX. They didn't write it though - it was written by a small anarchist organization in Monterrey.

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OliverTwister
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Aug 18 2008 07:31

The Alianza Comunista Libertaria? They're pretty cool.

marmot
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Aug 18 2008 07:50

Yeah those. They have fraternal ties to the ICC, I think.

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Demogorgon303
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Aug 18 2008 11:21

I welcome this recognition from Marmot concerning the Mexican section of the ICC. It has also been my personal experience concerning the section in Britain and the comrades I've met from France, Spain and Germany also bear this out. But I think the real key point Marmot makes is this, that "they have defended for 40 years internationalist principles", often in difficult or even dangerous conditions.

I think they are genuinely concerned with how to make their press more readable and they've opened up their website to comments on particular articles.

In particular, they have just published the first summary of an internal debate they are having on the question of the economic climate in the 60s and are encouraging contributions to this debate from individuals and organisations around the globe.

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Anarchia
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Aug 18 2008 16:12
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it is simply ridicolous that the biggest "hard left" tendency in a first world country is maoism.

The same is true in New Zealand, in terms of groups - anarchists outnumber the maoists overall, but there aren't really any anarchist orgs.

Spikymike
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Aug 28 2008 20:53

Re: the original post. I'm afraid I cannot resist a response to this naive approach to summing up an organisation like the ICC.

Serious criticism of the ICC (and I admit there has been some pathetically poorly informed slag off''s appearing here from time to time) has never depended on an assessment of their members abillity to have a drink and a laugh or admit to some marginal weaknesses in their communication strategy. Personally I get on fine with many of them these days and cannot comment on all their sections overseas.They probably have their fair share of pschologically damaged persons like most groups up against the 'insanity' of capitalist life but that is not the point really.

An adequate summary however needs to balance that organisations steadfast adherance over a long time to basic internationalist communist positions, with the way it has survived in an admitedly hostile world, through some pretty unhealthy and divisive splits and a continually overdefensive reaction to the political and organisational criticisms of the splitters, and others, who defend or defended at least the same basic internationalist communist positions.

marmot,

You should read some of these criticisms as posted on the 'CWO/ibrp' and 'internationalist perspectives' web sites and any of the earlier material from the Communist Bulletin Group' if it can be tracked down (one item from Ingram on the AF-North Web site).

I am not saying all these criticisms are necessarily justified but you should at least consider them alongside the ICC press if you want to get a balanced view of your own.

I have posted on other threads my own criticism of the ICC so will not repeat them here.

All this of course is not to say that there are any other groups around with all the answers both organisational and theoretical, though in my opinion the ICC still has a long way to go in finding a healthy balance of it's own compared with some.

marmot
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Aug 28 2008 23:10

i read ingram's article. i read threads about the whole shit surrounding the so called internal fraction. i am aware of some things. i am aware of their fortress mentrality. i think a lot has to do with the fact that the ICC is full of older people and they havent had an influx big enough of young militants to shake them up.

still, the ICC has is healthier than a lot of other internationalist groups. they are really fraternal with organizations that have internationalist positions - as is the case with the ICC in mexico that makes a lot of ties with internationalist anarchists. i really dig their concept of "proletarian millieu". they accept all sorts of non-ICC groups to their international congress. they are also the biggest internationalist group.

as i said, i think they need younger people. older people have a lot to put on the table, but also us the youth have our share of things.

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waslax
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Aug 29 2008 08:20
marmot wrote:
I am also surprised that the mexican section of the ICC was so new. It has about 20 years, ....

I think, however, that it is admirable that they have defended for 40 years internationalist principles. Especially in countries like Mexico -

Kind of difficult to have done this, since the ICC has only existed as such since 1975; so that would make it 33 years. Also, as you said above, they've only had a section in Mexico for 20 years. Not major misrepresentations, I admit, but they do suggest a tendency to exaggeration and hyperbole. (I am assuming you are just repeating here what they told you.)

Realize also, marmot, that the Mexican section, being significantly newer than the others (not all, but almost) is probably rather less prone to the cultism, obsessiveness, etc. than the older sections (especially the French one, which is dominant). I suggest you meet with their American members, for another perspective.

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waslax
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Aug 29 2008 08:36
Spikymike wrote:

You should read some of these criticisms as posted on the 'CWO/ibrp' and 'internationalist perspectives' web sites and any of the earlier material from the Communist Bulletin Group' if it can be tracked down (one item from Ingram on the AF-North Web site).

The piece by Ingram can be found in the libcom library. Most of Internationalist Perspective's critical texts on the ICC were written in the mid to late '80s, in the earliest issues of its review, and are not available (yet?) on its web site.

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Devrim
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Aug 29 2008 11:23
waslax wrote:
Kind of difficult to have done this, since the ICC has only existed as such since 1975; so that would make it 33 years. Also, as you said above, they've only had a section in Mexico for 20 years. Not major misrepresentations, I admit, but they do suggest a tendency to exaggeration and hyperbole. (I am assuming you are just repeating here what they told you.)

I think the French section has existed for 40 years. This is a bit of a nothing criticism.

Devrim

morven
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Aug 29 2008 12:36

"I think the French section has existed for 40 years. This is a bit of a nothing criticism".

Devrim

Indeed, RI was founded 40 years ago in 1968 in Toulouse.

Anyway, I think what Marmot writes here is more interesting:

"still, the ICC has is healthier than a lot of other internationalist groups. they are really fraternal with organizations that have internationalist positions - as is the case with the ICC in mexico that makes a lot of ties with internationalist anarchists. i really dig their concept of "proletarian millieu". they accept all sorts of non-ICC groups to their international congress. they are also the biggest internationalist group.

as i said, i think they need younger people. older people have a lot to put on the table, but also us the youth have our share of things".

Any thoughts on this?

Morven

ernie
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Aug 29 2008 17:51

We need people of all ages in order to develop the organisation. As we have said many times a fortress mentality did develop in the organisation, but we are seeking to overcome this. This is not solely a question of new militants though this is extremely important, but also of developing and strengthening the internal life of the organisation inorder to enable a systematic and profound understanding of the root causes of the problems that we have had. That is why since our last crisis we have produced several, what we call, orientation texts. The aim of these texts is to seek to place the problems we have had in a much more profound theoretical and historical framework. Comrades may find these very interesting, not only because they seek to give a theoretical analysis of the roots of our problems but also because they take up questions of importance to all revolutionaries and revolutionary organisation. These texts are
- Orientation Text 2001: Confidence and solidarity in the proletarian struggle, Part 1 [http://en.internationalism.org/ir/111_OT_ConfSol_pt1], Part 2 [http://en.internationalism.org/ir/112_OT_ConfSol_pt02]
- Marxism and Ethics part1 [http://en.internationalism.org/ir/127/marxism-and-ethics] part 2 [http://en.internationalism.org/ir/128/marxism-and-ethics-pt2]
At present we are seeing people of all ages and political back becoming interested in the politics of the Communist Left and the ICC, and the ICC is having to learn how to respond to this. A central lesson we are learning is that even if we think we have understood the theoretical/historical framework of questions, such as the causes of our crises, that does not mean we should automatically expect those not in the organisation to agree or accept what we say -which we have had a tendency to do at times-. Rather we have to actively seeking to discuss and explain that we think and be open to comments and disagreements.
A bit off subject but related, an example of this is the question of the discussion on the post war 'boom' we have published the various positions within the organisation on this question in the International Review [http://en.internationalism.org/ir/133/economic_debate_decadencel] and called for people to become involved in the discussion;

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Like our predecessors in Bilan or the Gauche Communiste de France, we do not claim to be the holders of "an absolute and eternal truth"[31] and are well aware that the debates that arise inside our organisation can only benefit from critical and constructive contributions from outside it. This is the reason that all contributions addressed to us are welcome and will be taken into account in our collective reflection

We have done this because we see this as question for all internationalists and one that can only be clarified through the most wide ranging discussion within the proletarian milieu. So don't hesitate to contribute to it.

ernie
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Aug 29 2008 17:49

Marmot

Thanks very much for this comment:

Quote:
i really dig their concept of "proletarian millieu". they accept all sorts of non-ICC groups to their international congress. they are also the biggest internationalist group.

The concept of the proletarian milieu is absolutely central and fundamental to our whole activity, and has been so since the very origins of what became the ICC. When the group Internacionalismo formed in Venezuela in 64 it was based on seeking contact with the remains of the international Communist Left and all those who defended internationalist positions. This was also one of the most fundamental aspects of the work of the whole communist left from the WW1. For example, in the 30's Bilan made every effort to established international contacts and to discuss. The first meeting of a Trotskyist group in New York was guarded by militants of Bilan.

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OliverTwister
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Aug 30 2008 01:55
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The first meeting of a Trotskyist group in New York was guarded by militants of Bilan.

Cannon mentions briefly that three members of the SWP in New York became left-communists. What came of this? What happened to those people?

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Aug 30 2008 07:23
Devrim wrote:
waslax wrote:
Kind of difficult to have done this, since the ICC has only existed as such since 1975; so that would make it 33 years. Also, as you said above, they've only had a section in Mexico for 20 years. Not major misrepresentations, I admit, but they do suggest a tendency to exaggeration and hyperbole. (I am assuming you are just repeating here what they told you.)

I think the French section has existed for 40 years. This is a bit of a nothing criticism.

Devrim

I admit it's not much of a criticism, Devrim, but are you suggesting that the ICC = the French section (RI)? Put another way, "the French section [of the ICC] has existed for 40 years" is false, since it was not the French section of anything before the ICC came into being in '75. It's just this looseness with the facts that the ICC and its supporters use to try to make reality fit with their vision of the world that bothers me. Again, I admit it isn't a big issue here, but then there wasn't much substance to the original post to deal with. Why not say 45 years in this case, since the Venezuelan section has existed since '63 (I think).

ernie
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Aug 30 2008 07:38

Good question Oliver, I don't think they joined Bilan (I could be wrong) may be they became part of the left communist group that Mattick's was part of?

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waslax
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Aug 30 2008 07:43
ernie wrote:
The concept of the proletarian milieu is absolutely central and fundamental to our whole activity, and has been so since the very origins of what became the ICC. ....

For example, in the 30's Bilan made every effort to established international contacts and to discuss. The first meeting of a Trotskyist group in New York was guarded by militants of Bilan.

Not the best example to provide, really. I don't know who here other than the ICC and its supporters who considers any Trotskyist groups in the '30s to have been proletarian political organisations or part of a proletarian political milieu. Did the Trotskyists really (back)slide so much from, say, '33 or '34 to the outbreak of WWII (when I believe the ICC considers Trotskyists to have crossed the class line with their support for the Allies) to justify claiming they were proletarian at the earlier time, but anti-proletarian at the later date? Trotskyism was anti-proletarian from day one, and if militants from Bilan guarded the first meeting of a Trotskyist group in New York, then that was a political error in judgement on their part.

ernie
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Aug 30 2008 07:52

Bilan engaged in discussions with the Trotsky and the various groups around him because they did not think he had betrayed the class. They said he was moving towards betraying, but I also think at least on one occasions they said he had betrayed. But you are right the ICC is pretty much alone in saying that Trotsky did not betray. But then there is nothing like being against the current!

Leo
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Aug 30 2008 08:42
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Did the Trotskyists really (back)slide so much from, say, '33 or '34 to the outbreak of WWII (when I believe the ICC considers Trotskyists to have crossed the class line with their support for the Allies) to justify claiming they were proletarian at the earlier time, but anti-proletarian at the later date?

just to clarify something: although the icc says that trotskyists crossed the class line with their support for the Allies (I agree with this as well, simply by looking at the groups in lots of parts of the world who broke from trotskyism because of it's positions regarding the war), obviously it's not as if the icc would be applauding trotskyists before that: as far as i am aware of, the position is that trotsky and trotskyists were opportunists and sectarian, and this hardly portrays them as angels, it is simply a different explanation and emphasis.

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Aug 30 2008 09:19

Bilan was extremely critical of Trotsky, even though they still regarded him as proletarian. Initially they made every effort to regroup themselves with Trotsky's Left Opposition but very quickly their intransigence on class issues and Trotsky's opportunism made this impossible. By 1932-3 the Italian Fraction had been expelled from the Left Opposition. Nonetheless, Bilan still afforded Trotsky a great deal of respect even though they criticised his politics - they also distinguished between Trotsky himself and the Trotskyists. But by 1934 attitudes had begun to harden. Trotsky was described as a "great eagle that had fallen into the mud" and the pages of Bilan questioned openly whether he could recover from this fall or if it would be permanent. Whatever Trotsky's personal ability to recover from such a fall, they declared Trotskyism as a movement to have crossed the class line and rejoined social democracy. The IVth Internation was an "international of renegades", a "still-born abortion".

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waslax
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Aug 30 2008 21:11
marmot wrote:
still, the ICC has is healthier than a lot of other internationalist groups. they are really fraternal with organizations that have internationalist positions - as is the case with the ICC in mexico that makes a lot of ties with internationalist anarchists. i really dig their concept of "proletarian millieu". they accept all sorts of non-ICC groups to their international congress. they are also the biggest internationalist group.

as i said, i think they need younger people. older people have a lot to put on the table, but also us the youth have our share of things.

Marmot, which other internationalist groups do you have in mind, here? The ICC do indeed have a concept of "proletarian milieu", but they don't own the concept, nor did they invent it. I'm quite sure that the concept was around well before the ICC came into being. Perhaps it was invented by one of the ICC's "predecessor groups"? I'm not sure, but I doubt it. In any case, other internationalist groups such as IP and the IBRP (and there are others, I'm sure) share this concept, but don't necessarily define it in exactly the same way.

I definitely do agree with you that internationalist groups need younger members to provide fresh input about today's world and, of course, for the sake of the future.

But I don't think that factors such as the ICC being "the biggest internationalist group" or having defended internationalist principles for x number of years are significant reasons for supporting it. That sort of reasoning is more reflective of leftism than of a critical revolutionary stance. After all, those factors are not inconsistent with an organisation having a horrible political theory, analysis (of contemporary events, tendencies), external practice and internal organisational functioning.

marmot
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Aug 30 2008 21:36
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But I don't think that factors such as the ICC being "the biggest internationalist group" or having defended internationalist principles for x number of years are significant reasons for supporting it. That sort of reasoning is more reflective of leftism than of a critical revolutionary stance. After all, those factors are not inconsistent with an organisation having a horrible political theory, analysis (of contemporary events, tendencies), external practice and internal organisational functioning.

I think defending internationalist principles is a really big positive thing, not just some detail. I disagree with some anarchist orgs on the question of democracy and organization, but I still find them in the same millieu as me for sharing the highest communist principle. Maybe you think internationalism is not really that important - i think it is the most important thing from where all the political praxis should emerged. After all, it was what defined the communists from the social democrats in 1914.

The comment of it being a "big" internationalist group wasn't really that important. But certainly, considering the fact its not really that simple to become an ICC militant (compared to recruitment mentality orgs like the UK SWP) -- it shows that as an organization, even when holding the intransingent marxism of the communist left, could avoid being shattered into very little grouplets like the remnants of the bordigists. It also shows they aren't as sectarian as people think.

marmot
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Aug 30 2008 21:41

waslax, I see you have a link in your profile to the IP, and I know it is a split from the ICC. Why did you split?

mikus
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Aug 30 2008 21:49
ernie wrote:
Good question Oliver, I don't think they joined Bilan (I could be wrong) may be they became part of the left communist group that Mattick's was part of?

Mattick was not a left communist by your guys' definition.

Leo
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Aug 30 2008 22:02
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Mattick was not a left communist by your guys' definition.

What are you talking about? Of course he was, we consider council communism to be a part of the communist left.

mikus
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Aug 30 2008 22:38
Leo wrote:
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Mattick was not a left communist by your guys' definition.

What are you talking about? Of course he was, we consider council communism to be a part of the communist left.

I thought you had to be a part of a left communist organization, and and an organization which is more than just a propaganda group at that. I don't think Mattick was in any left communist organization that was more than a propaganda group (past his adolescence in Germany).

This was my impression from Devrim's claims in debates about whether or not there are any left communists in the Bay Area. Certainly there are people who see themselves as very influenced by the council communists and Bordiga around here.

Is Internationalist Perspective a left communist organization? My impression was always that you guys would say no.

Leo
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Aug 30 2008 23:14
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I thought you had to be a *part of* a left communist organization, and and an organization which is more than just a propaganda group at that. I don't think Mattick was in any left communist organization that was more than a propaganda group (past his adolescence in Germany).

to be more accurate, it's that you have to be either a militant or a sympathizer of a left communist organization.

i don't know that much about groups mattick were involved with, nor do I really know what you mean by propaganda group. if they were similar to other council communist / councilist groups such as GIK, Daad en Gedachte or Communistenbond Spartacus, than we would consider them as a part of the tradition.

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Certainly there are people who see themselves as very influenced by the council communists and Bordiga around here.

at the same time? just out of interest, what do they think about Bilan or the GCF?

mikus
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Aug 31 2008 02:32
Leo wrote:
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I thought you had to be a *part of* a left communist organization, and and an organization which is more than just a propaganda group at that. I don't think Mattick was in any left communist organization that was more than a propaganda group (past his adolescence in Germany).

to be more accurate, it's that you have to be either a militant or a sympathizer of a left communist organization.

i don't know that much about groups mattick were involved with, nor do I really know what you mean by propaganda group. if they were similar to other council communist / councilist groups such as GIK, Daad en Gedachte or Communistenbond Spartacus, than we would consider them as a part of the tradition.

He was in the IWW at some point, in some sort of party as well, but later on I don't think he was a member of anything other than the collective that published the journal he was involved with (the various incarnations of Living Marxism). I could be wrong though, perhaps someone else around here knows this issue better than I do...

Leo wrote:
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Certainly there are people who see themselves as very influenced by the council communists and Bordiga around here.

at the same time?

I don't understand what you mean here. Influenced by them at the same time?

Personally I am very influenced by the writings of the council communists but not at all by Bordiga and the Italian left.

Leo wrote:
just out of interest, what do they think about Bilan or the GCF?

No idea.

Leo
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Aug 31 2008 08:08
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I don't understand what you mean here. Influenced by them at the same time?

yeah.